EUROBIKE, the bicycle fair to be held from 1 to 4 September (last day open to public) in Friedrichshafen, will give a taste of upcoming trends in the pedelec and e-bike market, says Michel Grosjean (photo), moderator of the Xing group E-bikes / Pedelecs: Transport modes of the Future.
Bicycle manufacturers are regular and big shoppers. After all, the art of building a good bicycle lies in picking the best components from the big variety of so-called "original equipment" on offer in all corners of the globe. And then to combine the sourced components with in-house developed parts to form an attractive and functional whole.
In the run-up to EUROBIKE one can already discern the outlines of a few trends around electric motors and motor components. Apart from new gear and suspension technologies, new motors for e-bikes and pedelecs are drawing ever more attention. Many of these motors will be on exhibit in new models of pedelecs and e-bikes in Friedrichshafen.
Over 1,000 exhibitors will present bicycles and bicyle-related products at EUROBIKE and e-bikes and pedelecs will be very well represented. It will be possible to test e-vehicles and their electric motors extensively on two test tracks.
Strong growth in sales
The e-bike and pedelec market is growing strongly. According to the Zweirad-Industrie-Verband (ZIV) unit sales grew by 50% to 150,000 in Germany in 2009. In the Netherlands every eighth new bicycle sold is an electric motor-supported vehicle. Just as quickly as the sales volumes are growing, the technology is also developing.
Compact bottom bracket motor
A good example of the way technology is developing comes from the firm Clean Mobile AG in Munich, a company which has been building components for electric-driven two-wheelers for some years already. (Also for the mail delivery cycle of the German postal service.) The knowledge and experience gained over the years helped the firm to develop an extremely compact and well-performing bottom bracket motor. It's casing measures a mere 15cm, but it houses the motor, reduction gear unit and bottom bracket. But, compactness is not the biggest discerning characteristic of the Clean Mobile motor. The developers also managed to transfer the high motor revolutions to pedal revolutions which are comfortable for the cyclist, that is, between 70 and 90 pedal revolutions per minute - without wasting performance. In other words, they were able to bring most of the motor performance to the rear wheel.
Shimano's new electric motor
Little is known about the long-awaited electric motor of the components market leader Shimano (even by sector experts), other than that it is definitely on its way. Apparently, a few lucky sector insiders will be allowed to take a look at the Shimano system in the coming days. What they will see, is written in the stars. Quite probably they'll see a combination of the successful Shimano hub gear system and new e-bike motor technology. This trade secret will most definitely be uncovered at EUROBIKE.
Bosch to launch own motor system
Another new product in the area of bottom brackets will be unveiled at EUROBIKE, namely the eagerly awaited motor system of auto supplier Bosch. One of the first bicycle manufacturers to build the Bosch system into its bikes is the U.S. firm Cannondale. Although a few product managers have already seen the new motor system behind closed doors, it will be officially launched at EUROBIKE, where it will be on exhibit in one or more Cannondale models.
Wireless chip card key
The supplier TranzX PST will show what it has done with wireless technology. This firm from Taiwan has developed a chip card key similar to the one already carried by owners of many luxury cars. The TranzX PST chip card key does not start a Mercedes, or BMW, but an e-bike. The unusual extra: when the e-bike owner walks away from the e-bike with the key in his pocket, the motor automatically turns off and the movement-sensitive alarm device turns on.
Components in e-motor: smaller and lighter
Premium quality e-bike technology has matured and has proven its practicality in everyday use over and over again. Now the e-vehicle industry is mostly working on making the various components even lighter and on boosting their performances. After all, the declared goal of many manufacturers is to put an e-vehicle on the market which doesn't look any different from a normal bicycle - even on the second look.
Author: Michel Grosjean
Translation: Christoffel Volschenk
Note: Michel Grosjean is a manager at the Swiss E-bike Test Center, which is in no way linked to the German test authority ExtraEnergy.
19 August 2010